After living in the “new normal” for nearly 2 years, most employees and employers are exhausted. In 2021, we really felt it; from experiencing Coronasomnia to burnout trauma to The Great Resignation – the Pandemic fatigue we collectively experienced is very real. It is a phenomenon that affects people in their daily lives, as well as in virtual and physical workspaces. So, what exactly is Pandemic Fatigue and how can employees and employers manage it in the workplace?
What is Pandemic Fatigue?
Pandemic Fatigue occurs in those that are mentally and physically exhausted from having to deal with the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which often results in the inability to cope with the situation.
You or your colleagues may be going through Pandemic Fatigue if you are experiencing:
- A lack of sleep or oversleeping: if you are not able to sleep or you are sleeping more than 8-hours a day, you may be experiencing Pandemic Fatigue
- Anxiety or worry: anxiety, especially over a long period of time, can contribute to Pandemic Fatigue
- Constant feelings of sadness and being overwhelmed: during the pandemic, the rate of depression in adults tripled
- Reduced performance in the workplace: studies show that COVID-19 stress impacts workers’ ability to perform in the workplace
How Can Employees Manage Pandemic Fatigue?
To combat Pandemic Fatigue, the CDC recommends improving your sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep will not only help improve your body’s defence system but will also improve brain function. Having a regular sleep schedule with 7-8 hours of sleep per night will help improve mental health and many of the symptoms related to Pandemic Fatigue.
Another way to combat Pandemic Fatigue is to prioritize social interactions and seek mental support. This can be online, at an outdoor outing, or another safe method of socialization. Studies show that a prolonged lack of social interaction can lead to a decrease in mental wellbeing, which can increase symptoms of Pandemic Fatigue. Regular interactions with a social group can increase feelings of belonging, mental wellbeing, and is a good way to combat Pandemic Fatigue.
If you are having a more difficult time keeping up with work, try sticking to a work schedule. Creating boundaries between work and home life is especially important while working from home over the pandemic. Set an alarm for the start of the workday and remember to schedule regular breaks. Having a work schedule can help stay productive during the pandemic.
What Can Employers Do to Help Those Experiencing Pandemic Fatigue?
One way employers can help their employees during the pandemic is to encourage disconnecting from work outside of normal work hours. According to the CCOHS, 1 in 3 employees responds to work emails outside of normal work hours. This can lead to Pandemic Fatigue and workplace burnout. By encouraging employees to disconnect, you can decrease irregular work hours and overall employee stress.
Creating better COVID-19 policies can reduce employee stress. Not only must you set the precedent for proper workplace hygiene, but you must also create guidelines for working from home, taking sick days, and setting reasonable workloads for your employees. Having a flexible work-from-home schedule can help keep you and your employees safe from COVID-19 and can also reduce workplace stress.
Another way employers can help employees fight Pandemic Fatigue is to support employee mental health. Employers can start various workplace initiatives to support employee mental health. For example, at Microserve, employees can take part in virtual yoga sessions. Other workplace initiatives could include psychiatric health support, a workplace buddy program, health-related webinars, a fitness budget, and more.
Studies show that feelings of loneliness can add to stress levels and Pandemic Fatigue. And with 61% of people aged 18 to 25 reporting high levels of loneliness, this can impact your workplace. By scheduling regular social events online or safely distanced, you can improve your employees’ feelings of belonging. For many, the lack of face-to-face interaction with co-workers impacts their mental health and productivity.
Battling Pandemic Fatigue in the Workplace
Perhaps the most important part of battling Pandemic Fatigue in the workplace is support from co-workers, mentors, and bosses. If you know someone battling Pandemic Fatigue, reach out and schedule a call or start planning an internal virtual event. Microserve has over 30 years of experience in the tech industry and can help you set up the right infrastructure to support employees virtually over Unified Communication platforms like Microsoft Teams. Contact the team at Microserve today for more information or visit our website